Play to Recall Hiroshima-Nagasaki

The Lincoln chapter of NFP is sponsoring the reading/performance of Foie Gras and the Public Servant on August 6 at 7 PM at the Unitarian Church in Lincoln located at 6300 A Street:

The play, by Hayashi Kyoko, a victim of the bombing of Nagasaki who lived with radiation sickness for over forty years after the Nagasaki bombing, tells of Japanese and American mass killings. Born in Nagasaki, Kyoko went to Shanghai in the 1930s but returned to Nagasaki in 1945 to go to school. Instead she was required to work in a munitions factory where she was laboring when the Nagasaki bomb fell and afflicted her with her fragile health for the rest of her life.  She began writing in 1962, mainly short stories and novels but also two plays.  For her work she received the Akutagawa Prize, the Kawabata Prize, and the Tanizaki Prize, three of Japan's highest literary honors.

Foie Gras and the Public Servant was written in the 1980s, broadcast on Japanese radio, and subsequently produced in Japan.  The action takes place on the green fields of the dead in Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, D.C. at a time when a tourist Japanese medical doctor named Okita visits the place.  There he remembers how he, in 1945, then a medical student, entered  the atomic wasteland of Nagasaki.  As he wanders in this cemetery, he meets the Japanese widow of an American war veteran, Bob, buried as a vet but capable of appearing from the the other side. As Okita meets Bob’s ghost emerging from his grave, Bob recalls his romance with his wife, Pearl Harbor, the Bataan death march. Meanwhile Bob's two grandchildren play in Arlington to the tunes of a military funeral  while Okita recalls Nagasaki. Ironically both men receive a reward for their service in war, the one man an appointment as a public servant, the other  fois gras and champagne.

The center of the play concerns what these rewards mean  -- what the great atrocities of Bataan and Nagasaki could have meant.  The play concludes with a 1995 letter from Bob’s widow.concerning the controversy over the Smithsonian exhibit to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the bomb that led to the censoring of the exhibit.

The play focusses on memory and the construction of meaning for our lives. This is, so far as we know, the first performance of the play in this country, and the Japanese translator will be present.

Local actors David Landis, William Gaines and Hanna Day-Woodruff will perform the leads in this “reading performance” of what was originally a radio play.  The reading is directed by Aaron Sawyer who comes to the event thanks to the collaboration of the  Angels Theatre Company.

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